Government could be facing a class action lawsuit over the worrying state of finances at the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
Charles Lewis, popularly known as Charlie Spice, has taken on the role of spokesperson for a group of disgruntled Barbadians, and he told Barbados TODAY they had already consulted an attorney-at-law in an effort to determine if there were grounds to sue the Government.
Lewis said so far 17 persons had come forward and expressed an interest in taking legal action.
While constitutional lawyer Lalu Hanuman told Barbados Today there was nothing stopping the group from taking legal action, he said whether they would be successful or not was left to be seen.
“There is nothing stopping them from filing a Constitutional motion, a declaration or even a judicial review application, but it depends on the grounds that he comes up with.
“There is nothing stopping him from approaching the court. Whether he will succeed on that approach is another matter,” Hanuman said, pointing out that it would be unprecedented.
The development has come following last week’s announcement by Government that the $4 billion National Insurance Fund was in danger of being depleted within the next 12 to 20 years if urgent action was not taken.
A press release issued today by the “group of distraught citizens” said it first needed to be determined if there was a basis to bring a class action lawsuit against the NIS and by extension the Government for mismanagement and misappropriation of NIS funds.
“If legal basis exists, this lawsuit would demand that the Board Of Directors of NIS provides the complainants with the following information; copies of verifiable accounts that show how much money was collected under the NIS programme; copies of verifiable accounts that show how much money from the NIS funds was invested by the Government; full details of all investments made by the Government using NIS funds; copies of verifiable profit and loss statements of all investments made by the Government using NIS funds and verification that all decisions by the Government to invest NIS funds were made lawfully and constitutionally,” the press release stated.
“This class action will seek to obtain compensation for the emotional, psychological and other punitive damages suffered by claimants as a result of the actions of the Board of Directors and the Government of Barbados.”
The group said it was possible the action could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation and they would be willing to go after the Government’s assets if it did not have enough money to pay.
Lewis told Barbados TODAY an independent enquiry would have to be carried out before a final decision was made.
“At this point we need to do an independent enquiry into the situation to ascertain whether or not there is good legal standing to take action and what kind of action to take. But the parties in question are definitely in favour of taking action and soliciting support from other individuals who would want to join the campaign.
“We’re taking advice now and also we want to decide the best way to conduct enquiries into the situation to determine what action to take,” Lewis said.